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Crucial time for Saltend dispute
On 6 May, a mass meeting of the Redhall engineering construction workers, 400 of whom have been locked out for eight weeks from working on the bio-ethanol plant at BP Saltend near Hull, voted again to reject an increased financial settlement in order to continue the fight for their jobs.
At the meeting, Socialist Party member Keith Gibson, on behalf of the lockout committee, described the COT3 collective bargaining agreement as an "employers' charter" which if signed up to by the trade unions would have prevented any worker from taking any legal action, employment tribunal or further protest against BP/Vivergo.
The meeting also agreed to call on the industry national shop stewards' forum to support a rolling programme of weekly national strikes in support of the locked-out workers.
Redhall workers lobbied the national stewards' meeting in Leeds on 9 May. The previous emergency meeting held two weeks earlier had unanimously agreed to call a national day of action if the dispute had not been settled by this scheduled next meeting.
Unfortunately, the stewards voted 27 to 10 against taking any industrial action in support of the locked-out workers. This was due to the pressure of the trade union bureaucracy who don't support unofficial and illegal strike action.
There is also a fear of job losses, and a refusal to acknowledge the industry-wide implications of this employers' attack on the trade unions, the TUPE transfer agreement and the NAECI national agreement. Whilst the stewards did pledge financial support, this will not win the dispute.
The Redhall workers have struggled heroically for over two months against financial hardship, company lies and a media black-out, heavy-handed policing and use of Section 14 of the Public Order Act. The workers will be discussing how to proceed with this dispute at report back meetings this week, in the light of the national stewards' refusal to give meaningful support.
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